Even as the deaths of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes hangs heavy on the city’s conscience, a 19-year-old boy was stabbed late Monday night in Dombivli (East), after he confronted a group of five youths for making unwelcome advances at his friend.
Santosh Vichivora (19), a resident of Navneet Nagar in Desale Pada, Dombivli, succumbed to his injuries even before he could be admitted to hospital. An eyewitness who intervened to rescue the boy was also stabbed.
His father having passed away two years ago, Santosh had joined the workforce right after his graduation, in order to provide for his cancer-stricken mother and his two young siblings. He worked with a marble and granite shop in Mulund, and was on his way home when the incident took place.
He was accompanied by 22-year-old Vinita, his friend and neighbour. Vinita (name changed) is a salesperson at a cosmetics store in Dombivli. Santosh and Vinita were both residents of Navneet Nagar complex, but lived in different wings.
“They were neighbours who lived in the same complex. After dismounting from a special bus that ferries the residents of the complex back from Dombivli railway station, they were strolling towards their homes. While walking next to Santosh, the girl was sharing her new phone number with him. A group of bikers standing outside the building overheard them,” said Rajan Ghule, assistant commissioner of police of the Manpada division.
The boys then started leering at Vinita, saying, “Arey humko bhi number de de na hum bhi call karege tujhe kabhi kabhi (Share your number with us as well, even we will call you at times).”
Outraged by their remarks, Santosh confronted them. A violent scuffle broke out between Santosh and the five boys, in course of which one of them stabbed Santosh on the left side of the chest.
Vinita, who had witnessed the entire incident, rushed into the complex and called a neighbour, Jayantilal Gada, for help. Gada was stabbed as well in the skirmish.
Gada later said, “When I saw that some youths were fighting outside the building premises, I rushed to intervene. I managed to separate Santosh from the five youths who were beating him. I saw that blood was oozing out from his left side. One of the attackers was carrying a knife. Suddenly I realised that I too had been stabbed, while trying to separate them.”
“I rushed Santosh to the Arogyam Hospital in an auto, but on the way he stopped responding to us. He was declared dead by the hospital authorities before admission,” added Gada.
The Manpada police registered a case against the youths for murder and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons. “We have arrested the five boys, of which four are minors and are studying for their HSC exams. One of the arrested accused, identified as Pankaj Pal, will be produced in court tomorrow,” said Ghule.
Santosh’s father Vinod passed away two years ago. His mother Vimala is a cancer patient.
“My son had started working right after completing his graduation, and took the entire responsibility of the family on his shoulders. His younger sister Tanvi is a Std VII student, while his younger brother is a Std X student,” said Vimala. Santosh would provide for her medical expenses. Locals said that seven cases of murder have been registered in the Kalyan-Dombivli area over the past two weeks.
‘I asked the watchman for help, but he refused’
— The statement provided by Vinita to the police
“We would meet at the Dombivli station once in a while. On Monday night around 9 pm, we met at the station and took the complex bus. After getting off the bus I was giving him my mobile number, when the incident took place. Santosh overheard the boys teasing me, and confronted them for their misbehavior, telling me to leave, and saying that he would see to them.
When I saw them attacking him, I got really scared. Not knowing what to do, I just rushed inside the complex to find help. I went to the security guard and requested him to help Santosh. He took one look and said he would not intervene, as no one from the building was involved.
The five boys were beating him black and blue. Santosh ran towards the complex seeking help, bleeding profusely. I too was desperately looking for help. Entering my wing, I saw Gada and some of the building’s committee members standing downstairs and chatting. Seeing Santosh’s blood-soaked clothes, they intervened and tried to push his attackers away. The last thing I saw was Santosh being carried away into an auto and taken to the hospital.”